Sandusky camera ready for Ripken, thanks to tip

Media Watch

September 22, 1998|By Milton Kent

Some of the best pictures of Sunday night's Cal Ripken end-of-streak festival came courtesy of a tip, a hunch and a gamble, and once again, Channel 11 was the beneficiary of all of the above.

Gerry Sandusky, the station's sports director and main sports anchor, said he got a call at the station around 6: 45 p.m. Sunday -- more than an hour before game time -- that Ripken was going to call a halt to his consecutive-games streak, and Sandusky got moving.

Sandusky, who also does duty as the main sports talker on WBAL (1090 AM), called ahead to Orioles broadcasters Jim Hunter and Fred Manfra to see if Ripken's name was in the lineup, and was told that manager Ray Miller had told Manfra that the matter of when or whether Ripken would sit would be addressed in the off-season.

But that didn't deter Sandusky, who got three cameramen down to Oriole Park and stationed them in different parts of the park to capture one of the biggest moments in local sports history, provided it happened.

"In a worst-case scenario, I would have had way too many cameras on hand, but there were a couple of things that told me that we were on the right track," said Sandusky.

One was that he saw Orioles public relations director John Maroon take a late call from Miller. Another cue was watching Ripken joshing around with Rafael Palmeiro in the dugout. The final tip came when Sandusky noticed that Ripken -- the walking definition of creature of habit -- wasn't warming up with B. J. Surhoff as always.

Now, none of this is to suggest that Sandusky got a scoop on the order of the Browns' move or even a scoop at all. The Sun's Joe Strauss wrote in Sunday's paper that the end of The Streak was in sight. But Channel 11's pictures of Kelly Ripken's emotional reaction and some other pre-game shots gave it a leg up on the electronic competition on a pretty big night.

"It was really great to get the feeling that we had something that no one else had," Sandusky said.

Boomer's view

Just like a lot of Baltimoreans yesterday, ESPN's Chris Berman found himself in line at some area newsstand, trying to get a piece of history.

"I just want to get the paper. It will complete my collection," Berman said Sunday night. "He's one guy that threw a surprise party for 45,000 people as opposed to having a surprise party for one guy."

Berman, the host of ABC's "Monday Night Blast" pre-game show, called Ripken's last appointment with history, the Sept. 6, 1995, game during which he passed Lou Gehrig on the consecutive-games played list.

"I applaud him for his accomplishment and for doing this absolutely the right way," Berman said. "It clears him to be a great player for the next year and to make one more push for the postseason. I just love everything about this. It was just a surprise."

On that 1995 night, Berman kept silent through the entire 22 minutes that Ripken circled Oriole Park to greet fans. That telecast won an Emmy and Berman received wide acclaim essentially for saying nothing.

"I love that. It was the biggest moment of my career," Berman said. "We [announcers] get paid to speak and we get praised for saying nothing. There's a message there. I did say, 'Back, back, back' when he hit the home run."

Of course, some of the luster of Sunday's game was lost by the fact that it wasn't nationally televised, and we can thank (or blame) baseball for that.

Had the Lords taken ESPN up on its offer to move September Sunday night games to ESPN2, a nation could have seen a piece of history. Baseball lucked out a week earlier when the St. Louis-Houston game did not yield a Mark McGwire home run, but in typical baseball fashion, the luck ran out and the nation was the poorer for it.

ESPN will air a Ripken special, "He Came To Play," tonight at 7: 30 before the Houston-St. Louis game. And before we let this go, and recognizing that the following is a little parochial and a tad picky, someone should tell Berman's always smooth colleague Dan Patrick or, more likely, his researchers, that The Streak began not at "Municipal" Stadium, but at Memorial Stadium. For Baltimoreans, there really is a big difference.

Ah, the inconsistency

A few years ago, Ted Turner went to great lengths to outline all his objections to boxing, so it's more than a little amusing to see that one of his cable outlets, TNT, is carrying a night of fisticuffs tonight.

Kevin Harlan, Evander Holyfield and Sugar Ray Leonard will call the three-fight card, headlined by the International Boxing Federation world lightweight bout pitting champion "Sugar" Shane Mosley against Eduardo Morales, commencing at 9 p.m.

The good and the bad

Speaking of fights, we have to salute the yeoman work of Jim Gray, who brought an air of civility, or at least attempted to, in a post-fight interview with heavyweight Vaughn Bean after he lost to Holyfield on Saturday night. Gray had to fend off the obnoxious promoter Butch Stewart, who insisted on barging in on the conversation, and Gray equipped himself nicely.

On the other hand, football viewers should consider a tasteful but firm raid on Channel 13 the next time CBS tries to foist analyst Beasley Reece on unsuspecting ears. Between his incessant use of the personal pronoun and his inane chatter, Reece was unlistenable on Sunday's Ravens-Jacksonville telecast, and his partner, Don Criqui, wasn't that much better.

Pub Date: 9/22/98

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